Vince McMahon’s dream of the XFL will expand to the nation’s capital, as Washington, D.C. was named as one of right teams in the re-established league’s first season.
The D.C. team will play its home games at Audi Field in Southwest Washington, the home of MLS franchise D.C. United which opened in July of this year.
JUST ANNOUNCED: We are excited to bring an #XFL team to our Nation's Capital and to bring the gridiron to the beautiful, brand-new @AudiField. Make your season ticket deposit now at https://t.co/gIoPZmf42c pic.twitter.com/mhl5MD50bX
— XFL Washington DC (@XFLDC) December 5, 2018
McMahon announced earlier this year that he was bringing back the XFL after the newfound attention surrounding the original league stemming from ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary special on the league.
McMahon, who owns the World Wrestling Entertainment, will solely own the league through his Alpha Entertainment company. The original league which operated one season before folding was a split investment between McMahon and NBC.
In addition to D.C., the XFL plans to field teams in New York/New Jersey, Dallas, Houston, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
Oliver Luck, the father of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, will serve as the league’s commissioner.
Teams are expected to begin play either Feb. 8 or Feb. 9 of 2020, a week after the Super Bowl.
While D.C. will play in a stadium initially designed for soccer, some of the other teams will actually play in NFL-owned or operated stadiums. New York, Seattle, and Tampa Bay will play games at MetLife Stadium, CenturyLink Field, and Raymond James Stadium, respectively. All three stadiums’ primary tenants are NFL teams.
Dallas will play at the current home of the Texas Rangers of MLB, Globe Life Park, however the Rangers will move into a new stadium in 2020 — Globe Life Field. Houston will play at TDECU Stadium, the home of University of Houston’s football team.
Meanwhile St. Louis will play at the Dome at America’s Center, formerly the home of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams before the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 2016.
McMahon has vowed the new XFL will not have the theatrics of the original league. He also said the league would not house players with criminal records unlike the NFL and will prohibit players from protesting or kneeling during the National Anthem piggybacking off the ongoing controversy in the NFL.
“People don’t want social and political issues coming into play when they are trying to be entertained,” McMahon told Darren Rovell earlier this year. “We want someone who wants to take a knee to do their version of that on their personal time.”
Picking teams with strong NFL fan bases and interest like New York, Washington, Dallas, and Tampa Bay is a bit of a gamble by McMahon. But sports is about television markets as much as it’s about fandom.
New York and Los Angeles are the two largest television markets in the United States. Dallas is fifth, Washington is sixth, and Houston is seventh. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay and Seattle each rank in the top 13. Only St. Louis is not in the top 20, but they may have been the most suitable given the city lost its second NFL franchise to relocation in the past 30 years.
The television markets are significant and instrumental for any nationally-based sports league to succeed. Next for the XFL is securing a television contract.